Heated Immigration Debate Gets Underway in the Senate

Mike O'Brien

The immigration debate moved to Senate floor on Friday in what could be a month-long discussion on the controversial reform bill.

Today’s talks were centered on whether the full Senate should take up the bill.

The proposed legislation would be the biggest overhaul of America’s immigration laws in a generation and so far it has created unprecedented dissension on all sides.

The bill was drafted by the so-called Gang of Eight, a bipartisan group of senators.

It would allow the nation's 11 million unauthorized immigrants to apply for U.S. citizenship, border security would be beefed up and the bill would revamp the legal immigration system to bring in more high-tech and lower-skilled workers on temporary work visas.

Opponents say it effectively grants amnesty to unauthorized immigrants and will bring in too many foreigners who will take potential jobs from unemployed Americans. They also believe the border security measures don’t go far enough.

Sen. Jeff Sessions, a Republican from Alabama, has already reserved three hours in the Senate to take issue with the bill and will be joined by other Republicans who want to overturn it.

On Friday he said in the Senate: "The legislation that's been offered by the Gang of Eight says they've fixed it. Don't worry. Well, it won't do that."

Democrat Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid opened Friday’s proceedings by saying he hoped the Senate would vote on it before the July 4 recess, adding that he believes Americans are ready for the sweeping reforms.

He said: "They all acknowledge that the vast majority of American people want us to move forward on this - Democrats, Republicans and Independents. And they all agree on a pathway to citizenship."

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